We arrived in Lima Peru at five in the morning and immediately proceeded to another plane for a short ride to Cuzco. As we flew over the Andes Mountains I couldn’t help but marvel at their magnificence. Everything was so lush, with crops growing in terrace beds on the side of the mountain ranges. From the air, it looked like square and triangle shaped pieces of earth all connecting in three-dimensional patterns.
We were welcomed by our guide and taken in a van through the mountains and valleys to our first stop. Yucay, in the Sacred Valley. Yucay was a lovely place, almost surreal with its views of the Peruvian highlands. We lodged at a 17th century monastery that was converted into a hotel, called the Sonesta Posada del Inca. The vibrant orange, yellow and red colors of the monastery separated it from the village dwellings, which blended with the countryside and were built of nut-brown adobe mud. The courtyard was lush with beautiful flowers and large Andean humming birds. Domestic Alpaca llama’s grazed about while the locals sold their colorful prints and wares. Cuzco is a city that must be explored, the city was founded in the 12th century as the capital of the Inca Empire. The city has art, wonderful food and great shopping in places like Plaza San Blas offer locally made items. People approach you selling all kinds of handcrafted goods, as long as you are polite they usually move along.
Our days in the valley were filled with horseback riding, rafting down the Urubamba River and hiking. Our travels took us to remote locations and allowed us to “peek” into the lives of the Peruvian Villager. The people were warm and gracious and the children were adorned in bright native costumes and always smiling. You could watch the children play with a ball for hours on end, it struck me that they had no sense of our materialistic society and were just happy to “be”. The villagers were happily living off the land with cattle to feed and plentiful earth to grow food.
Our trip culminated with two high points, Machu Picchu and Puno (Lake Titicaca). Machu Picchu offers the traveler a trip back in time with an incredible perspective on how the ancient Inca’s once lived. The horizons seemed limitless as if you could literally touch the clouds. One could almost feel the power of this place just by sitting on a rock for a quiet time and looking over the edge to see the river rushing by.
We headed to another spectacular spot, Lake Titicaca, a ten-hour train ride from Cuzco. The city of Puno at 12,000 feet above sea level is beyond “breathtaking”. A view of South America’s largest lake separating Peru and Bolivia provides a vast array of interesting islands. Generations of Uros Indians have lived in the middle of the lake by creating pod islands made of reeds that grow abundant in the region. The Indians speaking in their native tongue of Quechua, are friendly and welcome visitors. They survive on tourism and crafts for their livelihood.
Peru is a country whose people capture your heart, offering a magnificent backdrop of all natures’ pleasures that lift your spirit and calm your soul. One immediately senses pride and strong family values. Life in Peru is not easy by American standards, but the simple lifestyle and commitment to earth reminded me that travel is educational. Understanding different value systems in the world help to provide a different perspective in our daily life.
Peruvian food is delicious and fresh. Vegetables are plentiful and the soups are wonderful. Be sure to partake in the local snack called Cancha, toasted maiz, and sip on the coca tea which helps with the elevation. Peru has some amazing silversmith products and Alpaca products abound. I love their artwork and rugs, they are so colorful and offer a variety of motifs.
Be sure to acclimate gradually and plan for at least 5-7 days to make it all the way to Puno. The altitude can be an adjustment. If you have a propensity to get headaches in be sure to get a prescription from your Doctor and take the medication as prescribed. Having a guide is crucial, the country is vast and the roads are tricky to navigate. Confirm that you guide takes credit card payments. Be sure to advise you bank and credit card companies that you are leaving the states. When you visit Machu Picchu you can engage a guide, but be sure to request some along time to just take in the sights. Our guide talked the whole time and I finally thanked him and asked for some time to just sit and take in the scenery.
I took some of that peaceful feeling home from my Peruvian adventure, thank you for allowing me to share it with you.